Although spicy food has a far-reaching appeal that spans the globe, some countries definitely come attached to spicier preferences and tastes than others. Here’s an overview of which of the world’s countries can be said to have the spiciest food as of 2023, as well as a few potential contributing factors.
Local availability of ingredients like peppers and other spices, culture-based culinary traditions, and spiritual practices in certain world regions can all affect the likelihood that a country’s signature cuisine will be spicier than average.
Countries widely considered to have the world’s hottest, spiciest offerings include:
Thailand: Thailand is frequently considered to have the spiciest food in the world. Popular, widely recognized spicy dishes include Tom Yum soup, spicy Thai papaya salad, and green Thai curry.
Mexico: Mexican cuisine liberally makes use of both fresh and dried chili peppers, many of which are quite spicy. Signature dishes popular around the world include enchiladas, burritos, and various types of tacos.
Korea: Local specialty spice options and condiments like gochujang and gochugaru earn Korea a spot on most running lists of the countries with the spiciest food. Well-known dishes include bulgogi and kimchi.
India: Indian cuisine is known both for its rich flavor profiles and frequent use of spicy ingredients like peppers. Signature dishes include biryani, vindaloo, tikka masala, and curry.
Jamaica: Jamaica is another nation where spicy peppers (such as Scotch bonnets) are frequently found in the local cuisine. Jerk chicken is just one spicy dish from the region popular around the world.
A particular country’s food preferences frequently originate with practicalities, such as the availability of certain ingredients. Countries known for their traditionally spicy food – like India, Korea, or Thailand – are typically also countries where spicy ingredients like peppers are locally available and where the climate makes them easy to grow.
A trade history that exposed a country to spicy ingredients over time can also affect the national preference for spicy flavor profiles versus milder alternatives. The same goes for long-standing cultural and spiritual traditions that celebrate spicy flavors, dishes, and ingredients.
In more recent years, globalization and immigration patterns from country to country also had roles to play in each country’s preference (or lack thereof) for spicy food, especially when it comes to the far-reaching appeal of spicy food.
Spicy Food Dishes
|Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles, Gan Guo, Chuanbei Liangfen, Gan Bao Chicken, Kashgar Kebabs, Suan Cai Yu, Saliva Chicken, Sichuan Hot Pot, Mao shi hong shao rou, Hunan Spicy Beef, Chongqing Hot Pot, Suān Là Fěn, Yu Xiang Tofu
|Doro Wat, Tibs, Shiro, Kitfo, Siga Wat
|Shito, Red Red, Kelewele, Chichinga
|Vindaloo Curry, Biryanis, Madras, Jalfrezi, Chicken Chettinad, Laal Maas, Rista, Andhra Chili Chicken
|Rendang, Sambal, Bebek Mandura, Seblak
|Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Jamaican Oxtail, Curry Goat/ Mutton/ Chicken, Fish Escovitch, Ackee And Saltfish
|Nasi Lemak, Laksa, Sambal Belacan, Beef rendang, Ayam Goreng, Satay
|Habanero Peppers, Smoky Chipotle Peppers, Serrano, Guajillo, Pasilla, Mulato, Shrimp aguachiles, Burritos, Tacos, Chilate De Pollo, Chimichanga. Enchiladas
|Suya, Ofada stew, Ata rod, Egusi
|Biltong, Peri-peri Chili, Bunny Chow
|Gochujang, Kimchi, Dakdoritang, Donkatsu, Buldak Ramen, Maeun Jokbal, Dakbal
|Lunu Miris, Black Meat Curry, Kottu, Koas Ata Kaly Pol Curry
|Tom Yum soup, Kua Kling, Kaeng Tai Pla, Som Tam, Pad Ka Prao, Laab, Gaeng Kua Kling,
|Chili Con Carne, Enchiladas, Jalapeno-Stuffed Beef Burgers, Buffalo Wings (The southern US has a vibrant food culture that often mixes Native American influences with European and Mexican dishes.)